The Success of Fast Food Restaurants
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The “Golden Arches” are an internationally known fast food icon. As one satisfies his hunger at the corner of a major intersection, he knows exactly what to expect: the cheap, yet flavored hamburger; seasoned fries, and an enormous soft drink. The market for fast food is an enormous commodity; today is a perfect example of the demand for consistently inexpensive and desirable meals. Fast-food restaurants have succeeded because they provide inexpensive fast food catered to the American lifestyle despite negative health aspects.
Fast Food is easy and cheap, especially when compared to the more prestigious and, as a consequence, much more expensive cuisine. Perhaps the best example of the inexpensiveness of fast food is the McDonald’s dollar menu, which is filled with unbelievably low prices, appealing to the average American. Imagine feeding a whole family for fewer than ten dollars. This is possible because of the “McJob,” a new word that categorizes any low paying job with little chance of advancements or upward mobility. Minimum wage jobs allow franchise owners to have a low overhead, which in return causes low costing and poor quality food.
America, as opposed to most of Europe, is always rushed. The average working week is forty hours, with maybe forty-fi ve minutes as a lunch break. This is not enough time for a lavish lunch, leaving fast food as the menu of the day. Americans, who live to work, will often bring home fast food as an alternative to the time consuming process of preparing dinner. Fast food is targeted to cater to the speed of an on-the-go American. The popular quote “In, out, and on your way” describes exactly how convenient fast food truly is. Now one doesn’t need to go the lengths of in and out, just wait in the drive thru and go.
If a person was hungry at 1:00 AM in 1940, he was out of luck. In today’s world, one has their choice from a variety of fast food restaurants on every corner; they even have drive through windows so a person doesn’t have to get out in their pajamas. For example, Wendy’s, doesn’t close shop until 2:00 AM. In spirit with competitive American capitalism, McDonalds doesn’t close now until 2:30. Most cities and towns have rows of fast food restaurants so a person can jump from roof to roof, just incase they felt like Mexican food from Taco Bell rather than a McDonalds hamburger.
In recent decades, the family structure of many Americans has changed. In most families, both parents need to work to support their families and to own a house, limiting the amount of time to spend with their children – let alone cooking meals. Fast food restaurants solve this equation easily by giving parents the option of killing two birds with one stone. They can take their kid(s) to a place like McDonalds that allows a parent to feed their children with cheap, appetizing food that the kids love, as well as provide them with fun environment. Kids love to go to fast food restaurants because they have “play places,” indoor playgrounds set up as jungle gyms. Aside from the “palaces,” every fast food restaurant has a “kiddy” menu that contains a toy surprise. Kids, in some cases, like the toy more than the food stuffed with sugar. One of a child’s favorite things to do is to eat a “happy meal” and play in the “McPlayhouse”.
To further prove the success of fast food are the national health concerns directly related to fast food consumption, which have not decreased the industry’s profits; rather, fast food corporations have embraced these concerns by offering a “healthy” alternative. Subway has complied with the raging “Atkins” diet by placing low carbohydrate salads and wraps that are “Atkins approved.” Subway uses advertisements with slim attractive actors who have gone on the “Subway” diet, eating a six-inch cold cut sandwich everyday and losing fifty pounds! Other fast food restaurants, not as well know for fresh low fat food, have introduced lavish salad meals; for example, the Asian chicken salad at Jack in the Box and the southwest chicken salad from McDonalds served with a bottle of Evian water.
McDonalds even goes to the lengths of offering either crispy or grilled chicken. However, Weight Watchers, a popular weight loss program, shows that these gourmet meals are in fact very high calorie and high fat from the fried chicken, croutons or fried noodles, and rich dressings. The salads, in some cases, are less healthy than the typical hamburger that people try so hard to avoid. Despite the actual ingredients in these meals, Americans fall for the devious advertisements showing healthy individuals eating the “healthy” fast food.
As we embark on a new generation of consumers, Fast food
Fast food restaurants have been so successful in America because they offer an inexpensive, fast, convenient, and family oriented alternative to fit the American lifestyle. As previously mentioned, the working American has little time to embrace other culinary options, so the fast food lifestyle has become an easy alternative that many Americans choose to partake in. Many Americans flock to these restaurants for many different reasons causing the fast food industry to become an intricate part of every Americans life.